Everyone knows that 7'2" Dwayne Schintzius has the altitude. But what about the attitude? In his first nine games as a freshman last season, Schintzius seemed bent on backing up his boast that he would lead Florida to a national championship. Burying soft hooks from the baseline, spinning for pull-up jumpers and unleashing the Gators fast break with crisp passes, he was almost convincing.
But Schintzius began to slump badly last January and got burned by a succession of so-so centers. LSU's Jose Vargas, Tennessee's Doug Roth and Kentucky's Rob Lock all had career-best games against him. During one four-game stretch, he grabbed a measly seven rebounds.
His cockiness backfired badly against Syracuse in the East Regional of the NCAAs. Schintzius bragged that he was going to take it to center Rony Seikaly. Seikaly replied by scoring a personal-high 33, including six slam dunks with Schintzius standing close by. Schintzius scored six and fouled out, and Florida lost 87-81.
Schintzius had been hotly recruited at Brandon High (near Tampa) but turned off some colleges with his bombast. It wasn't always so. Schintzius, who outgrew his first love, baseball, used to be so self-conscious about his height that when his family went out for dinner he would stay in the van and have Mom bring him a meal-to-go. By the time he got to Florida his outlook had taken a nasty twist. When a couple of six-year-olds asked, "How's the weather up there?" he spat at them and replied, "It's raining."
But Seikaly's face job seems to have humbled Schintzius: "From here on in, I'm going to say only great things about my opponents." A stress management course has helped. 'I've grown up so much in a year," he says, "it's not even funny."